Stop “Surprising” and “Delighting.” Build a Great Product and Experience Instead.

I have a pet peeve that’s turning more and more into a lingering frustration, and that’s all the hype I’ve been hearing about “customer experience.” It seems to be the headline of every other article, and if I hear someone talk about “surprise and delight” one more time I’m gonna freak.

Here’s the thing. Customer Experience has always been the most important thing to focus on. How you treat your customer, and the experience they have shopping with your or interacting with your brand is basically the key to any successful enterprise.

But it seems to have gone beyond that lately. It’s gone to companies going out of their way to build experiences that are beyond the brand – turning the marketing into a kind of circus sideshow / novelty act.

If building out experiences beyond your core is what you are doing, that’s of course fine, but my fear is that in this strive to “surprise and delight” our customers, we’re losing track of the most important part of our jobs – to serve them as seamlessly and professionally as we can for the purpose in which they are interacting with us in the first place.

So, here’s my tip: Before you make it your mission to “surprise and delight,” spend as much energy as you can going through your core product experience. Do user flow analyses, work with QA testers. Get feedback. Dig into analytics. Use the product yourself and give feedback and iterate until it’s flawless.

Then, once you can’t find a single sticking or pause point throughout your user journey, and your product does everything that your customers expect, and in a way that is absolutely obvious, then you can look at going farther.

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